This year on World Heart Day, which falls on the 29th of September, The World Heart Federation (WHF) is asking you to make a promise. A promise to eat more healthily, to get more active, to say no to smoking.
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer today. But it doesn’t need to be this way. WHF urges that by making just a few small changes to our lives, we can reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as improving our quality of life and setting a good example for the next generation. It’s about saying to yourself, the people you care about and individuals all around the world, “What can I do right now to look after my heart… and your heart?”
Get Better Sleep
If you belong to the group of people who cannot get a good night’s sleep nightly, then you should know that your struggle with sleeplessness will eventually result in low productivity and depleted energy. However, the consequences of poor sleep go beyond a grouchy temperament. Research reveals that being in a sleep deprived state can compromise the health of your heart.
A large number of people suffer from long standing persistent sleeplessness. There are those who choose to work or engage in social activities rather than sleep the recommended eight-hour slumber. There are also those who put up with insomnia or other disorder that prevent them from having a healthy snooze.
A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany, revealed that you need to get better sleep to reduce your risk of developing coronary artery disease, which can lead to your death. Moreover, an erratic sleeping pattern (one that does not follow the nightly norm) is connected to other cardiovascular risks that include obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Sleep that only lasts six hours or less per night is termed as short sleep. It is especially dangerous to the health of your heart, according to Dr. Susan Redline, the Peter C. Farrell Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Sleep deprivation causes higher levels of stress hormones in the blood and other substances that signal infection, which greatly contributes to cardiovascular disease. One night of inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on your system.
On the other hand, sleeping beyond the normal seven to eight-hour sleep duration can also affect heart health. According to researchers, calcium builds up more in the heart artery walls and leg arteries become stiffer in people who usually sleep for nine or more hours per night; as compared to those who have a normal seven hours nightly.
Obesity is another connection between sleep deprivation and heart disease. Dr. Redline says that there is infallible proof that there is a strong connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Why? A theory states that short sleepers are likely to eat more snacks and ingest more food in general. Moreover, poor sleep may compromise different brain reward systems that include those that control energy intake, judgment, and food choice. Other studies show that sleep-deprived people choose sweet and fatty foods over healthy choices like vegetables. Fatigue, which frequently affects short sleepers, also encourages people to avoid the exercise that they need to cope with increased food intake.
A leading cause that increases the chance for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure, which can be traced back to insomnia. Difficulty falling or staying asleep is found in a third of people at a certain point in their lives. Some people, however, stay in a condition of hyperarousal, a psychological state characterized by anxiety and feeling on edge. It is possible for this to worsen blood pressure problems.
Obstructive sleep apnea is another common sleep disorder described by a repeating pattern wherein a person briefly stops breathing as the tongue or throat tissue blocks the airway, sometimes many times a night. Often linked with obesity, sleep apnea increases the chances of developing high blood pressure, and having a heart attack or stroke.
Get Involved in Heart Health
The World Health Federation suggests a few other ways for you to support WHD 2018 and help to raise awareness of heart health. Their motto is: For my heart, for your heart ... for all our hearts, all around the world.
- Create a custom poster and social media image using the two basic posters on the website. They come in different languages and you can add your own photos and text. You also get a chance to enter their Heart Hero Awards 2018.
- Download the campaign resources to support WHD campaign activities. There are several toolkits available, including ones for members and healthcare professionals, for businesses and organisations, and for supporters around the world.
- Spread the word on social media. The WHF Digital Toolkit contains everything you need to amplify their campaign messages on your social media networks, including sample posts.
- Get posters, logos, the leaflet, graphics and more to post and share.
- Ask buildings and landmarks around the world to light up red to help promote the campaign and raise awareness. If you have a building that wants to turn red for World Heart Day, or you want to pass them on to WHF, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.